Pressure on NHS: Hospitals in the East urge people to only visit A&E if it's 'absolutely necessary'

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson


Hospitals across the Anglia region are urging people only visit A&E departments if ‘absolutely necessary’ as pressure on the NHS continues to mount.

Latest figures from the NHS show emergency attendances at Northampton General Hospital were up almost 30% compared to the same time last year.

In Milton Keynes and Cambridge they were more than 25% higher, which meant waits of more than 12 hours for some.

As emergency departments across the region come under increasing pressure, hospitals are urging some patients to consider using other health care services, like minor injury clinics.

A patient gets treatment for an achilles tendon injury at the Minor Injury Unit at Ely's Princess of Wales Hospital Credit: ITV

Ely's MIU at the Princess of Wales Hospital is one such place that A&E departments were hoping people would use more.

It is open seven days a week and can treat a range of ailments, according to Clinical Team Lead Kathy Amey.

Kathy Amey is Clinical Team Lead at the Ely MIU Credit: ITV

"Cuts, bruises, injuries from the shoulder down to the hand and from the knee down to the foot and a few infections, urinary infections and also sore throats, earache that sort of thing where people are perhaps having difficulty getting a GP appointment they can come to us," said Kathy Amey.

Hospitals were also encouraging people to visit local pharmacies where staff could offer help and advice.

Pharmacies can offer a lot of help and advice Credit: ITV

Littleport pharmacist, Sze Chong, said people don't realise that there was a lot a pharmacy could do to help without the need of visiting a GP or A&E.

"One good example is that people tend to run out of medication and they don't know they can get it from a pharmacy because we do emergency supplies as well," she said.

"So all they have to do is ring up 111 and get a referral and then we can actually access their GP records and give them the medication that they need so they don't end up in A&E for missing important meds," Sze Chong said.

Other NHS trusts were sending out similar messages at the moment, including Norfolk and Waveney where the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had also asked people to think twice before heading to A&E.

“The message is clear, please do not go to A&E if it’s not a serious emergency," said Melanie Craig, Chief Executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group.

"Alternative treatment options are available and finding the right service for you maybe quicker and closer to home," she added.